Evolution of an Illustration Master, Harry Borgman: Part IV

The years 1993 - 2003

Jeanne and I were getting restless and decided to leave New York. Jeanne actually never cared for the place after living in Paris, and I wasn’t having any luck connecting with another gallery. The ad business was also changing, although I had plenty of work in New York and was also getting assignments out of Chicago and Detroit. It just seemed as if we had hit a dead end in the fine arts area. We decided to move back to Michigan, in an area midway between Detroit and Chicago where we had our family. Sawyer is a small town located about twelve miles from the Indiana border and is near the town of New Buffalo. I hooked up with a rep in Chicago, Bob Fischer, an old friend from Detroit, who was able to dig up plenty of work for me. I also started to do a lot of work for McCann Erickson and Doner Advertising out of Detroit. Doner would actually call me in for a week or two at a time to render up ad comps and storyboards for their client meetings. Somehow I even managed to get assignments from ad agencies in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I still had several clients in New York that used my services on a regular basis. Things were going well in the commercial business and I also managed to get a couple of galleries to represent my fine art paintings and prints.

A poster that I did for my first exhibition at the Water Street Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan. Later I left the gallery because they didn’t want me to have another gallery within one hundred miles of Saugatuck, which meant that I couldn’t exhibit in the area where I lived.

I also began to do a series of woodcarvings, figures and masks, which were also exhibited. This all started when we were having a new home built, the builder saved large pieces of wood from the beams of my new home.

Here is my promotion mailer that was sent out to ad agency art directors displaying some of my comp layout work.

I had no intention of buying a computer and how I happened to get involved with it is unusual. I used to send all of my New York assignments in packages by FedEx when I finished them. One day a package arrived late and another one was lost. My clients were furious and I had to do one of the jobs over very quickly. The other client actually cut my fee by $700 for being late, which I thought was pretty severe. One client told me I’d better get a computer if I wanted any more work. With the computer I would be able to send the finished work to my client over the internet. I quickly got a computer and everything was fine after that, no more lost packages. One day when I had some down time I began to experiment with the computer and was astonished at what could be done with this new medium. I’ve been hooked ever since. I have tried to render storyboards on the computer, but it takes me twice as long as it normally takes. I suppose that I just need a little more practice. I do many fine art projects and comic book cover parodies on the computer; it’s a fascinating new medium with great possibilities.

Comp layouts done for one of my New York clients.

Part of a large series of storyboard frames done for Y & R in Irvine, California.

A magazine ad comp illustration. These renderings and all of those previous ones were all done with markers on layout paper.

Part of an animatic done for one of my Detroit clients.

Another magazine ad comp illustration.

More storyboard frames, often these would come in large batches and usually have an overnight deadline. These were done in a 5 x 7” size.

Another group of frames from a series that had to be finished overnight.

Three frames from an interesting storyboard about China from one of my New York clients.

The years 2004 - Present

Since I quit doing storyboards I have kept very busy painting, sculpting and doing many experiments on the computer. As a lover of exploring and experimenting I find the computer to be an amazing medium. Also one can produce limited edition prints, posters and other self-promotion material on the computer. For my latest series of paintings, I first do a variety of color sketches on the computer, evaluate them, and then use one of the images as a basis for a new painting. It’s a terrific way to create interesting and different images.

Some of the posters that I’ve designed for various exhibitions of my paintings as well as my digital experiments.

Here is a painting from my series EROTO and the poster that I designed for the exhibition.

The Loft Galeria represents me in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Here is the poster that I designed for the exhibit in which I had shown many of my comic book cover parodies, which are created on the computer.

These are a few of the projects that I have designed for commercial projects; they are all created on the computer.

A series of limited edition prints created on the computer and printed with pigmented inks on archival paper.

Acrylic paintings on canvas, from my EROTO series.

A poster and an abstract painting from my EYE OF THE BEHOLDER exhibition at the Craig Smith Gallery.

Designs created on the computer for ECLECTICA’s CD album covers. This was a real fun project as they wanted the covers to be quite different from each other.

I am a frustrated comic book artist, my high school art teacher, Margaret Stein, luckily steered me into advertising and fine art, but I have always been fascinated by comics and comic books.

My most recent digital work, Comic Book Cover Parodies. Both series will probably eventually be in book form.

Comic Book Cover Parody Series.

One of the covers from my Fine Arts Comic Book Cover Parody Series.

I have been working on a series of new abstract figure paintings for the last year. These paintings are actually based on color sketches done on the computer. It is a totally new concept for how I work. I do several color sketches on the computer, then pick out the most interesting concept and use it to develop a large acrylic painting.

My latest acrylics on canvas paintings, which are abstract figures, are based on computer color sketches. These have been exhibited at the Craig Smith Gallery in Union Pier, Michigan.

As I mentioned previously, I also have created many carved and constructed sculptures over the years. Above you will see a couple of my efforts in the sculptural area.

Recently the Harbor Country Public Arts Initiative has picked one of my sculpture mock-ups to be constructed and erected in Sawyer, where I live. They are holding benefit drives to raise money for this project. It will be exciting to see this materialize. I have submitted many projects to sculpture competitions in the past; this is the first success that I’ve had in this area.

The HCPAI also gave 50 artists in the area birdhouses to decorate which will be auctioned off to raise money for their projects. Here is the birdhouse that I created.

This concludes Harry Borgman’s biography and career retrospective. The final piece to this series will be on Monday when Harry walks us through his illustration process. A segment you certainly will not want to miss.


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